How can the US media deal with not predicting a Trump victory: Analysis

Saied Okasha in Washington DC, Thursday 17 Nov 2016

The US media has been largely unwilling to admit miscalculating the outcome of the US election

(Photo: Reuters)

Only days before the US presidential elections, most TV and news outlets were confidently reporting that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton would win the race.

They also maintained that -- according to polls – the chances of winning for Republican candidate Donald Trump did not exceed 8 percent.

Newsweek, for instance, had confidently declared "President Hillary” on its cover page on 9 November, though was later forced to withdraw more than 150,000 copies from all stores.

As a matter of fact, media outlets in the United States are apparently not willing to admit their wrong calculations about the potential outcome of the elections, as Trump — not Clinton — ended up victorious.

Many of them, instead, are attempting to persuade the people that nothing went wrong through several justifications.

One example of that can be found in an opinion article published by The Washington Post on 11 November titled "If you voted for Trump because he’s ‘anti-establishment,’ guess what: You got conned."

The Washington Post published some arguably controversial statements from Trump -- issued during the campaign stage -- in which he described the White House and the US Congress as institutions suffering from corruption, which he would fight in case of his election as the new US president.

The report, meanwhile, referred to Trump's so-called "transition team"—which will work with the president-elect until power is fully transferred from President Barack Obama to him—arguing that most of its members are strongly connected to the business heavyweights in the country.

Included in the report were names of banks and corporations that enjoy strong relations with Trump such Altria, Visa, Coca-Cola, General Electric, Verizon, HSBC, Pfizer, Dow Chemical, and Duke Energy.

"If you’re waiting for your fat rebate from the government once the establishment has been sent packing, you’re in for a shock. It won’t actually be Trump’s plan precisely that will pass Congress and he’ll sign, it will be some combination of what he wanted and what congressional Republicans want. But the two share a driving principle in common, and you may want to sit down while I tell you that helping regular folks is most definitely not it," the report said.

"No, their commitment is to be of service to that most oppressed and forgotten group of Americans, the wealthy. Trump’s tax plan would give 47 percent of its benefits to the richest one percent of taxpayers. Paul Ryan’s tax plan is even purer — it gives 76 percent of its cuts to the richest one percent in its first year, and by 2025 would feed 99.6 percent of its benefits to the top 1 percent."

This example clearly shows that the Washington Post believes that the electoral victory of Trump came as a consequence of deceiving the American people.

Nevertheless, it did not attempt to deny the fact that Clinton sought to do the same thing, since she promised to increase financial support to the poor and increase taxes paid by the rich, despite her backing by large corporations.

In the meantime, Pew Research Center questioned the method used by institutions conducting polls, which involves phone conversations.

The problem with phone calls is that it gives access to people with good education. For those who are limitedly educated or not educated at all, it is somehow challenging to reach them through the phone. Some of those people even refuse to speak.

Pew, however, did not provide an interpretation of the fact that it was providing newspapers and TV channels with polls that its researchers had conducted amid a clear possibility of reaching inaccurate conclusions.

The Democratic Party—in a related context—justified the loss of its candidate in the presidential race by accusing the FBI Director James Comey of submitting a request to the Congress to examine some of Clinton's emails and their impact on US national security, aiming to deliberately reduce her chances of becoming the next president.

An article by The Nation — a leftist-leaning magazine — issued on 14 November claimed that Comey is a Trump supporter, which it says was clear in the FBI not attempting to investigate the accusations faced by the Republican candidate about his relationship with the Russian embassy in Washington.

At the end of the day, Trump won the presidential race.

Americans might forget the failure of polls and views of US academics and politicians about higher chances of victory for Clinton, unless the ongoing anti-Trump protests continue, especially in consideration of any decisions he will take after his inauguration on 20 January.

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